All About Eve

Ultraviolet

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So, 1991's attempt at mainstream cred (Touched by Jesus) didn't work out. The label (PolyGram) didn't quite know what to do with All About Eve anymore, and the band was once again teetering on the edge of oblivion in 1992. What is a band to do? Well, for All About Eve, the first step was to overhaul the entire thing. Eschewing the admittedly adult contemporary sound of the previous full-length, the bandmembers went full bore for more indie cred, opting to recast themselves in a more "shoegazer" light. The leadoff single, "Phased," must have really raised a lot of eyebrows, given that the band had not just opted for adding effects and turning up the distortion, but restructuring the basic AAE song formula and giving the lyrics a bit more dreamlike quality, at the same time losing the more dramatic and maudlin stylings of the past. While it is not uncommon for bands to wagon-jump from time to time given popular tastes, many bands go for the surface, trying to capture the sound of what the current flavor is, without understanding the depth that is sometimes involved. And this is why Ultraviolet stands out a bit from the pack of pretenders. Firstly, Marty Willson-Piper has enough psychedelic cred on his own to help guide the band in the right direction -- there are some really key moments from the veteran Church guitarist on this one. More importantly, leader/vocalist Julianne Regan understands that the band can't just turn on the phase and chorus pedals and redo "Every Angel" as early-'90s British psych. Tracks like "Phased," "Freeze," and "Dream Butcher" are clean cuts with the past, a sense that the Eves had enough confidence to push aside obvious hooks to let long, floating melodies carry the weight of the song. But all is not lost in the shuffle, and the longstanding talents for hooks and melody rear up in dreamy gems like "Things He Told Her" and "Some Finer Day." To be sure, this is not a revolutionary statement, à la MBV's Loveless, but for the crop of bands enticed by the notion that noise could be beautiful, All About Eve's Ultraviolet rates pretty damn good. This would be the band's last official full-length release before going into a very long hiatus, which is a bit of a shame, given that Ultraviolet was possible proof that the band had more to offer.

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